(15 February 2016) – Athens has been granted three months to avoid a Grexit from the Schengen zone, and improve the protection of its external borders, by implementing 50 measures specified in a document leaked by Statewatch.
Statewatch revealed the draft Council implementing decision setting out a Recommendation for Greece to address deficiencies identified by the European Commission in the 2015 Schengen evaluation.
The document notes that 78.5% of all illegal external border crossings into Greece in the period between January and October 2015 took place over the last 3 months of that period, while more than 90,000 people were rescued in over 2,500 incidents. “This creates great challenges in the management of the migratory and human crisis,” the draft conclusions read.
The relocation scheme agreed on by member states has produced poor results so far, triggering strong reactions from Rome and Athens. Just 497 refugees, out of 160,000 have been relocated from Greece and Italy.
The recommendations to Greece refer to improvements in registration procedures for refugees, as well as enhancing the Greek police’s role in the process. Greece has largely failed to register asylum seekers so far. The document stressed that in addition to efficient border management, Greece should also create the much-awaited hotspots, as to date, just one is functional (Lesbos island).
As EurActiv reported on 29 January, the Greek government accused the executive of trying to “isolate” the debt-ridden country, and claimed that the Schengen report was politicized and tampered with. (EurActiv)